Portrait of Sir Thomas More


It is a stern face

framed by a heavy jaw,

the skin sags under the chin with

encroaching middle age.

His nose juts outwards,

a barque setting sail for a better land,


His mouth is set,

a straight, ruled line,

the artist has caught

an ascetic melancholy

in his expression.

Was he already wearing the

hair shirt under his rich clothes,

the damson velvet and ink-black fur

to mortify his flesh?

Around his neck, the chain of office

bearing and wearing him down

each gold link signifying

order, duty and belief

but, how those links would break

and how the chains would fall

when you fell from grace

Sir Thomas

and died a martyr’s death.


I’ve always loved Tudor history, and have recently started reading the Shardlake books by C.J. Samson. This poem was inspired by the portrait of Sir Thomas More by Hans Holbein (image from Wikipedia). 




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